This past weekend, HHS spokesman Michael Caputo took to Facebook to proclaim the United States was on the verge of mass violence in the wake of the November election, claimed his own life was in danger and said he was tortured by “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment.” Caputo has since taken medical leave, which sounds like a very good idea. But while public attention was focused on the unfortunate Caputo, many missed this Politico scoop: HHS Secretary Alex Azar, frustrated with the high standards the Food and Drug Administration was insisting on before approving coronavirus diagnostic tests, loosened the standards for lab-developed tests.

Yet again, the Trump White House is taking full advantage of the fact that most people find the word “regulation” sleep-inducing, while almost everyone can thrill to the latest bit of presidential or administration craziness. As a result, this administration, a failure in so many areas, remains startlingly successful at imposing its conservative, pro-business agenda on the federal government regulatory structure.

A report published last week by the advocacy group Public Citizen found that, since the country began to shut down in mid-March, the Trump administration has done away with more than 30 government regulations and is in the process of unraveling 20 more. Those regulations have two things in common: First, they’ve almost absolutely nothing to do with the covid-19 pandemic. And, second, they are, in almost all cases, desired by business interests or otherwise sought out by Trump’s most conservative supporters.

So even as the Trump administration struggled to help states acquire emergency protective safety equipment for hospital workers, it did manage to finalize rules that allow truckers to spend more time on the road, despite safety concerns. And even as wildfires — worsened by climate change — burn out of control on the West Coast, Trump is continuing to roll back and weaken environmental regulations such as limits on mercury emissions from coal plants and mileage and emissions standards for cars and trucks. He also wants to restrict the environmental review process for federal infrastructure projects and weaken regulations restricting the flow of water from shower heads and dishwashers to save water. Trump rants about that latter rule a lot. “You take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” he ridiculously claimed this past summer.

Since the day he assumed office, Trump and his minions have taken a sledgehammer to long-established rules designed to keep us healthier and safer. Republicans in Congress joined in, using the Congressional Review Act to unwind a number of Obama-era regulations such as one designed to help people save for retirement.

And as Public Citizen’s report shows, Republicans are not slowing down as they approach the election. If anything, the Trump administration is acting as though it believes its White House expiration date is approaching and is trying to do as much damage to the policy infrastructure of the United States while it still can.

And make no mistake, even if Joe Biden wins the presidency in November, the damage is likely to be long lasting. Yes, advocacy groups and Democratic state attorneys general have sued the Trump administration hundreds of times, attempting to forestall the damage. And, yes, they are often successful. But it’s quite likely that a Biden administration will, in turn, find itself facing a flurry of lawsuits from conservative interests as it attempts to restore or improve on regulations Trump took apart.

As I’ve pointed out time and time again, Trump makes chaos work for him. While critics, the media and social media users highlight and mock his blunders, inaccuracies and failures, his administration continues to take apart regulations that keep the rest of us safe. They keep their focus on the main goal, to the detriment of the rest of us.

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